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Greenwich Council approves demolition of Stirling-shortlisted eco-store

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Greenwich Council has approved plans to replace the 2000 Stirling Prize-shortlisted Sainsbury’s eco-store on the Greenwich Penisula with a huge new IKEA

This news comes despite a petition to save the building, which amassed more than 1,180 signatures, and a bid to list the 15-year-old, Chetwoods-designed supermarket.

Paul Hinkin, the director in charge of the project at Chetwoods who later left to set up his own practice Black Architecture, described the proposed demolition of the pioneering green superstore as ‘an act of vandalism’ and pleaded ‘that [the demolition] must not be permitted’.

He said: ‘We will still continue to fight to save Sainsburys Greenwich, and will continue to until IKEA put a wrecking ball through the roof.’

Catherine Croft, director of the C20 society, who submitted the supermarket for listing, added: ‘The decision by Greenwich planning committee on Monday 3 March to grant approval for the demolition of the Sainsbury’s millennium store is disappointing. But that decision does not change the status of the listing application – English Heritage are continuing their assessment of the building as an urgent priority case.

‘And the developer has been made aware that a positive listing decision would mean that their demolition plans would require further applications to the council, and may have to be radically re-thought.

‘Neither does it change our view that this multi-award winning building is an outstanding example of innovative retail design, underwritten by ecological and sustainability principles. This is the most innovative retail building in England. We strongly believe it should be listed.’

Commenting on the decision, Lisa Poyser, Sainsbury’s development surveyor, said: ‘We are pleased by the decision of London Borough of Greenwich to endorse the plans for the redevelopment of our former North Greenwich store on Bugsby’s Way. The construction of our replacement store, which will enable us to offer the full Sainsbury’s range to the growing population of North Greenwich and Charlton, has already begun and we look forward to it opening in 2015.’

When it opened, the supermarket scored the highest ever official environmental rating for a retail building with a perfect 31 out of 31 points, and was the first store to be awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating.  

Full speech made at the planning committee meeting by Paul Hinkin, director of Black Architecture

‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen; my name is Paul Hinkin and I led the team responsible for the design of Sainsbury’s Greenwich. I wish to urge the committee to refuse the IKEA planning application to demolish this millennium eco store - and its unique garden - which is nationally and internationally recognised as a pioneering exemplar of sustainable retail design.

‘This application is premature due to the ongoing evaluation of Sainsbury’s Greenwich by both English Heritage who are considering an application by The Twentieth Century Society for it to be grade 2*-listed and by The Royal Borough’s Historic Building specialist’s for local listing.

‘To destroy a pioneering environmentally sustainable building and concrete over its garden after less than 15 years does not, as claimed by the applicants, represent sustainable development; but is an act of vandalism that must not be permitted. Not only would it represent a tragic waste of resources, the loss of this award winning building would do lasting harm to both local and national efforts to promoting sustainable development.

‘To be sustainable IKEA should be encouraged to build on brownfield land in need to regeneration, with direct access to the train or tube network and where they can act as an anchor to attract customers to both their store and adjoining existing retailer’s. They have adopted this model in Coventry, Southampton and Hillingdon and should be required to develop proposals that meeting the unique challenges of Greenwich before they are granted planning permission.

‘The Greenwich Peninsula is a special place of national significance. The vision for the peninsula was to create a sustainable community and Sainsbury’s was selected to provide the supermarket to serve that community after a competitive design and financial selection process because they offered a building of outstanding quality which fully met these objectives. It was the first ever supermarket to be awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating. IKEA’s extreme spatial requirements and their underlying two hour drive to store model would not have met with English Partnerships vision to deliver high quality sustainable growth in England and are not acceptable.

‘To objectively assess the merits of the IKEA proposal it is essential that IKEA are required to provide more detail regarding the nature of their proposals. To argue that technology has moved on and this makes Sainsbury’s Greenwich obsolete totally misses the point about what makes this building unique. IKEA must be required to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating as an absolute minimum requirement and this can only be assessed by the preparation and submission of well‐designed and verifiable, detailed planning application.

‘There is significant support to save Sainsbury’s Greenwich, both locally and nationally, due to its unique, exemplar pioneering design. Our petition to Stop IKEA and Save Sainsbury’s Greenwich has received over 1,000 signatures. I urge you to protect and promote Royal Greenwich’s reputation for sustainable development and design excellence and reject this application; which if consented, would condone an act of vandalism and do significant harm to the sustainable development cause.’

Previous story (AJ 20.02.14)

Listing bid made in desperate attempt to stop Sainsbury’s demolition

The Twentieth Century Society has called for the Sainsbury’s Greenwich by Chetwoods Architects to be grade II*-listed in a last ditch attempt to save the eco-store from demolition

The shock move comes just days before a decision is made on a planning application which, if approved, would see the 15-year-old, Stirling Prize-shortlisted store flattened and replaced with a new IKEA.

The organisation submitted its application to English Heritage today (20 February) in support of a campaign instigated by the Paul Hinkin - the director in charge of the project at Chetwoods who later left to set up his own practice Black Architecture.

If successful the super-green store, which opened in 1999, could become both the first listed supermarket in the UK and the youngest building ever to be listed.

In a statement the C20 Society said the ‘building represented a complete re-thinking of traditional supermarket design.’

Catherine Croft, C20 director said: ‘Not only would the demolition of such a recent building be a tragic waste of energy and resources, but this supermarket is outstandingly important. It is the most innovative retail store to have been built in the UK in the last 50 years.

‘To date no other supermarket buildings have even been assessed for their architectural or historical interest - and yet they are an incredibly important. Practically everyone has been to a supermarket at one point or another. This one is the best and most obvious candidates for listing.’

If the supermarket’s destruction is permitted, it will do irreparable harm to UK sustainable development

Hinkin added: ‘Sainsbury’s Greenwich is a paradigm shift in public building which must be preserved. If its wanton destruction is permitted, it will do irreparable harm to the cause of sustainable development in the UK.

‘The bioclimatic design principles which form the DNA of the building, coupled with its pioneering user centred design philosophy, have created a unique and new sustainable architecture.’

Hinkin also began an online petition against the supermarket’s demolition, which has so far amassed more than 800 signatures, including past RIBA president Angela Brady and Bristol Mayor George Ferguson.

Brady commented: ‘I fully support the retention of this sustainable award winning project. Although in general I’m not a fan of large supermarkets in urban areas - but this is the exception to the rule.

‘IKEA should have more regard to local community feedback as a boycott of their store should be taken into account if it were to be replace this worthy building. In general the IKEA Blue box is not a building of beauty. If IKEA were clever they would do a retrofit of this existing store to suit a company that boasts sustainable credentials.

‘If IKEA have a sustainability strategy why can’t they apply it to themselves in the making of their workplace. To build a new sustainable building goes against all their own principles and to me this empty rhetoric is just not acceptable. Listing the current Sainsbury’s store could be a way of making them listen to their own words!’

When it opened, the supermarket scored the highest ever official environmental rating for a retail building with a perfect 31 out of 31 points, and was the first store to be awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating.  

Previous story (15.11.13)

Stirling-shortlisted Sainsbury’s eco-store faces demolition

Chetwoods Architects’ award-winning Sainsbury’s store in North Greenwich is facing demolition - just 14 years after it was completed

The £13 million super-green store which opened in September 1999 looks set to be bulldozed and replaced by a new IKEA.

The supermarket chain claims the building, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2000, has become too small for its operations and plans to move to a store three-times as big.

Last year it was announced Sainsbury’s intended to vacate the store, making way for a non-food retailer to take on the lease. Plans have since emerged which will see the store flattened to make way for a huge new superstore for the Swedish furniture giant.

Paul Hinkin, who was director in charge of the project at Chetwoods before setting up his own practice Black Architecture, said: ‘It is an absolute outrage. A building with a useful and productive life is going to be demolished. It is an act of vandalism.

‘It is an absolute outrage’

‘The store transformed the debate about retail design. Before it was built supermarkets were just not considering sustainability.’

The shop was designed to have a 50-year lifespan. Hinkin added: ‘[It] could easily have had a life of more than 100 years.’

IKEA is proposing a new 33,000m² store on the Greenwich Peninsula which would be constructed from sustainable materials.

A spokesperson from IKEA commented: ‘We are planning to demolish the Sainsbury’s store, as the current building is not fit for purpose to be turned into an IKEA store. We need a larger space, and therefore inevitably we need to demolish the existing building to provide this.

‘However, we have made a commitment to reuse and recycle all of the salvageable materials from the existing Sainsbury’s store.’

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s added: ‘We are relocating our Greenwich store to a bigger site so that we can offer our customers the full Sainsbury’s range.

‘Our new store, which has already successfully gained planning permission, will be fully fitted with modern sustainable technologies.’

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